Senior Provincial Board (PB) Member Victor Balite on Tuesday said that it is not yet the right time to purchase brand new vehicles for the 13 members of the legislative body and its presiding officer Vice Governor Rene Relampagos considering that the province continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Balite, who co-sponsored the resolution approving the purchase of the vehicles in February last year, before the pandemic broke out, aired his stand on the issue after the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) gave the green light to the Provincial Government of Bohol to carry out the procurement of 14 brand new pickup trucks worth a total of P24 million.
“Dili g’yud [angayan] pa kay kung nangatungdanan ta pagka board member, dili ta magsalig og sakyanan sa gobyerno,” said Balite.
However, the second-term legislator noted that even with the DILG’s approval, there is still no clear direction as to whether or not the provincial government will push through with the purchase this year.
“Pagkakaron pud, wala pa may giingon na mo acquire na g’yud. Gapahibaw lang si Vice Governor Rene nga gi-approve na sa DILG. Once na duna na g’yud move ang atoang Sangguniang Panlalawigan nga mo-acquire anang mga bag-ong sakyanan, posibli ana na ko motingog,” he added.
After the PB received the DILG’s Department Authority last week, Relampagos said that the current government-owned vehicles used by the PB members, which he estimated to be around a decade old, already have “questionable road worthiness” which may compromise their passengers’ safety.
Vehicles of “around six” members of the legislative body were noted to be in need of major repairs prompting the legislators to use their personal vehicles for official trips, Relampagos said.
“There is a difference between wanting and needing something, but in this case, this is a need,” he added.
The purchase of the vehicles was supposed to be carried out last year but was postponed due to the pandemic.
PB Member Aldner Damalerio who sponsored the resolution deferring the procurement of the vehicles said that the Sangguniang Panlalawigan was “willing” to reallocate the budget to augment the province’s war chest in battling COVID-19.
However, Balite said that the plan did not push through as the budget was not used or realigned to fund COVID-19 response efforts.
“Mura’g wa magamit, wa ko kadawat og mga report na nagamit to,” he said. (R. Tutas)